mid-century maunderings for men who know better
A pretty, middle-class, high school girl sings in a band with her boyfriend. She sneaks out at night, goes to parties, drinks beer and has fun. Her Mum finds out and tracks her down, making her get in the car just as she’s about to play a great gig. This is the type of fodder usually set in California, featuring blemish-free teens and tanned, toned Moms. It always works out in the end. Mum sees herself in her daughter and Dad convinces her to let their daughter sing. Daughter agrees Mum knows best and leaves the band after one great gig to go to college.
In this case, things are not so straightforward. Farah lives with her Mother in Tunis under a repressive regime. She writes and sings protest songs. She has just graduated with top marks and is headed for further academic success. She is defiant and spoilt. Her father works away from home and cannot get ahead due to his political beliefs. As an audience we can see she is courting danger and wish she would not stick her head over the parapet. At the same time we admire her. She mistakenly thinks her class and education protect her from the laws that govern how women act in public. Farah’s provocative behaviour gets her noticed by the police. Then she disappears.
Unlike its American counterparts, As I open my Eyes has great music. The performances are excellent. It is realistic and unsentimental. If you know any spoilt teenage girls, take them to see As I open my Eyes.
Three generations share one house in post-war Japan. Unmarried Noriko supports them by working in an office. She is popular and enjoys her life. Her family are concerned about her unmarried status but are also dependent on her income and help around the house. She will not pressured by family, friends or colleagues to marry. The mother of her childhood friend confesses in tears that her secret wish is that Noriko would marry her widowed son and be a mother to his child. To her (and our) surprise Noriko acquiesces. This is a subtle film that moves at a relaxed pace. The story contains no surprises but works on our emotions by allowing us to watch the characters develop with no pressure to move the plot along. Early Summer carefully examines the role of young women within the family and workplace; and the importance of marriage, and whether it is essential to a happy life. It is a charming film.
Readers of Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb will not be shocked by the corruption that connects organised crime, the Holy See and the Italian government in a greasy skein of tangled obligations based on favours given and respect owed. Suburra begins with one politician, one hotel room and one fatal accident. A whole series of violent retributions follow. Turf wars, political scandal and generational change underpin this gripping action-packed spree. If you like that sort of thing. Robert Saviano still lives in hiding under constant 24 hour guard.
Adama’s West African village is located deep in a verdant crater surrounded and protected by high cliffs. His people are forbidden to ascend into the land that surrounds it. Knowledge of the outside world is based mainly on myth and superstition. When Adama’s brother leaves to offer himself as a mercenary to a distant tribe, Adama follows, against his parents wishes, to bring him back. His journey takes him into the portside markets, Paris and the battlefields of WW1. He is intrepid and enterprising. The successful outcome of his quest is far from assured. This film is a beautiful combination of computer-animated clay figures and traditional matte backgrounds. The movement of the characters is smooth and hyper-real. Adama is exciting and surprisingly joyous.